Auctioneers’ body warns of massive job losses due to e-Lelong

Council of Auctioneers Malaysia chairman Mustafa Osman (centre), his deputy R Raj Yogan Pillai (right) and lawyer Haniff Khatri with letters objecting to the e-Lelong system.

KUALA LUMPUR: About 1,800 auctioneers in Peninsula Malaysia risk losing their jobs if the e-Lelong online system to conduct property auctions for the country’s courts comes into effect, the Council of Auctioneers Malaysia has warned.

Its chairman Mustafa Osman said the amendments to the 2012 Rules of Court to be tabled in Parliament, which include provisions for the new web-based platform, gave no indication that auctioneers would be involved in the system.

He said pre-auction procedures like filing of affidavits, distributing advertisements and other tasks now undertaken by auctioneers would also be taken over.

“If that amendment goes through, we will lose our jobs. Why are they trying to eliminate us?” Mustafa said yesterday.

“We have been assisting the court in auction matters since 1929,” he said.

He said the council had written to Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2014 about the matter but there was no response, and had also held a meeting with Nancy Shukri, who was the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law.

He said they also wrote to current de facto law minister Azalina Othman on Feb 22 to air their concerns, only to hear soon after about the government’s plan to implement the amended rules.

Mustafa said they were informed that a private company would be taking over pre-auction procedures.

He said the council therefore proposed for a full-time licensed auctioneer to be appointed through it to carry out pre-auction procedures as of and until the filing of an affidavit, putting up of advertisements and other court directives.

Under the proposal, the auctioneer’s bills for all works done must be handed over to the court within two weeks after an auction is held.

It also suggested that the auctioneer’s commission for a successful property sale be set at 2% of sale price, or 1% of the reserve price if the auction is not successful.

Mustafa said auctioneers who were problematic should be acted on by being charged.

Last July, an e-Lelong pilot project was conducted at the Kuantan Court Complex.

Chief Justice Raus Sharif had then said that the bidder’s identity would be kept confidential, encouraging more bidders to participate in the public auction.

The system is the first in Malaysia to conduct public auctions online in real time. It is expected to increase the public’s chances of owning fixed assets, especially residential properties at real value without price manipulation.